Arrowtown is beautiful in any season but in autumn it’s as though the town slipped into its Sunday best. The hills glow like an oil painting with every shade of red, yellow and orange, and golden leaves float through the air and crunch underfoot. But Arrowtown isn’t all tree-gazing - there are many other uplifting activities to fill your days and your cup in the historic goldmining town.
Walk or ride the trails
The Arrow River is the perfect place to really take in the splendour of an Arrowtown autumn and the trails that wind alongside it are great for both cycling and walking.
Stroll the Millennium Trail with the family, an easy, flat 4.2km loop walk along the edge of the river. Or head into the hills to Tobin’s Track, with the option to veer off onto the New Chum Track, or try the Sawpit Gully Trail, which can be completed in a loop. These day walks offer great variety, with some moderate climbs, wooded glades, tussocked meadows and streams. Crunch the autumn colours underfoot and take in the view from on high.
If you're in the mood to explore with two wheels, hop on a bike (available to rent from Better by Bike or Arrowtown Bike Hire) and continue onto the Arrow River Bridges Trail which can take you as far as Gibbston.
Land back in Arrowtown feeling accomplished and reward yourself with a cold beer or a nice mulled wine (or two) and a meal at one of Arrowtown’s excellent hospitality offerings.
Have some “me time”
Every great holiday should contain some form of self care - and in Arrowtown it’s possible to tick a few boxes. Start with a spot of retail therapy along the main drag, stopping in at Attic Homestore or Francis Patterson to peruse boutique homewares or visit Wallace & Gibbs, GOALS, Seletti Concept Store and Ikon for something new to wear, then indulge your inner child at the Remarkable Sweet Shop.
Once your shopping urge is sated, check out Dorothy Brown’s and see if there’s a movie playing that takes your fancy. The boutique theatre is an experience in itself, as is its gin bar.
Then its time to head to the spa at Millbrook and rest those weary legs. The resort’s menu for massage and pampering treatments is nearly as long as the beer and wine list at the Fork n Tap, which, by the way, isn’t a bad place to end your day.
Eat and drink
Arrowtown is home to some great restaurants and specialty drinking spots. On the main shopping street you will find everything from slow-cooked meats and burgers at Slow Cuts, to flavour-filled Asian fusion dishes at Fan-Tan, or bellissimo Northern Italian-style fare at Aosta.
Hunt out The Blue Door for some mulled wine or whiskey, or head to The Balcony at Dorothy Browns for a gin cocktail. Just a short drive towards Lake Hayes and you will find Akarua Wines & Kitchen by Artisan. Relax in the beautiful gardens or inside the historic cottage and choose from the crafted lunch menu, paired with a glass or two of excellent Akarua wine.
It’s also possible to take yourself on a little wine tasting loop around the vicinity of Arrowtown, visiting local tasting rooms and vineyards at Akarua Wines & Kitchen by Artisan, Amisfield, Wet Jacket and Nockie’s Palette Wines at Stoneridge Estate. Cheers to that.
Arrowtown Autumn Festival
Held in late April, the Arrowtown Autumn Festival is a highly anticipated date in the Wakatipu calendar. Local favourite events include the Pie, Pint and Pinot - where Arrowtown restaurants create specialty pies that are paired with local craft beers and Akarua wines - and the laugh-a-minute Quiz night. Families flock to the area for the annual parade and there are several children’s events, including the Balloon Twisting Workshop and the Scarecrow Trail.
The atmosphere in Arrowtown around festival time is buoyant, with restaurants and bars buzzing and live music and performances on the streets. Add to this the beauty of the falling leaves and the crisp, Autumn air, and it really is the best time to visit.
Relax in boutique accommodation
With an array of gorgeous, boutique cottages available for accommodation rental in Arrowtown, it’s possible you will want to ignore all of the above and just cosy up in these cute, historic spaces and watch the leaves fall outside the windows. Some of these historic houses are an Arrowtown experience in themselves, hailing from the area’s early settlers, making this a perfectly valid way to spend your holiday!